The Waiting Room by Peter Nicks is a character driven documentary film shot in Highland Oakland California over the time frame of five months in 2012. Nicks lets the characters be the ones who tell their stories with staff members and their experiences with the American medical system at Highland hospital. The emergency room is filled daily with more than 250 uninsured patients who know they will be waiting a long time to get the health care they need. This unique film explores the depts of human empathy through different forms of online storytelling mediums, on their website, with videos and live in the waiting room, it aims to improve patient experience through the collection and sharing of digital content . This rare form of storytelling documents and observes patients from different communities, ethnicity’s and cultures to observe emotional traits they possess during their experience that together to empathies and appreciate the importance of human centered design and its engagements in our world.
Nicks and his crew gain valuable access to personal stories that would usually be shut away from the world at Oakland hospital. He earns the trust of patients and medical professionals to delve into these personal issues they are encountering in hopes that the nation can understand the hard work and pressure staff and patients undergo to receive basic medical attention. We admire the stressed staff such as the nurses in the waiting room, up to the compassionate doctors who are coping with the complexity of the public health care system in the US who is dealing with the trauma from the recent recession.
At no point are we led to believe this is a false perception of each staff member or patients experience. Camera’s follow their every move in a desecrate respectful manner that allows the natural flow of their experience to occur. Each scene is accompanied with voiceovers of the patients and staff members as they explain the emotions they are dealing with, as categorized on the website as courage, faith, fear, frustration, gratitude, grief, hope and pain.
The movie moves its focuses onto ten patients through their highland hospital journey who struggle with one or more of the above emotions either with loved ones or alone, however they all share one thing in common and that’s anxiety, from the fear of the hospital bill that will eventually come to their door.
Amongst these profound stories is a thought-provoking experience told through the eyes of young man with a testicular tumor who was transferred from the private Kaiser hospital. His surgery was cancelled last minute as the hospital found out he had no health insurance. Despite being told that it needed to “come out ASAP” the hospital did not want to help purely because this young man had no insurance. The young man and his fiancé show up to Highland distressed and desperate for help just like many others in the waiting room